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Service sector confidence rising as project moves forward (2/03)

By Maggie Riopelle Discover Abitibi is providing local small business owners in the mining sector an added sense of security. The Discover Abitibi initiative will give the necessary boost to mining in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake region.

By Maggie Riopelle

Discover Abitibi is providing local small business owners in the mining sector an added sense of security.

The Discover Abitibi initiative will give the necessary boost to mining in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake region. However, the initiative can only succeed with a $1-million investment from the communities.

Information sessions were held in January in Timmins and Kirkland Lake to announce the 19 projects being conducted under the $12.9-million program.

The projects are focused on the use of technology and geoscience to profile the area and pinpoint potential mineral rich sites. The data will be released to the public and can be used by prospectors and exploration and mining companies.

“Discover Abitibi is an investment in the future,” says Robert Calhoun, project manager. “The goal is to increase the rate of discovery of new mineral wealth and increase investment in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt of Northern Ontario. The focal points will be the Kirkland Lake and Timmins mining camps. It is time to discover the Abitibi.”

Government funding of $10 million, which includes contributions from FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., will support the initiative. However, under the funding arrangement, the private sector must contribute $2.5 million, of which $1 million must be cash and the remainder will be in-kind data and personnel support.

“This is an economic renewal project,” Calhoun says. “We are hoping to have contributions to make this a reality. For every mining job created, three jobs are created in indirect services. I think our goal of $1 million is achievable.”

Already Holmer Gold Mines has committed $10,000 towards the project, the City of Timmins $55,000, Porcupine Joint Venture $110,000, and the Porcupine Prospectors and Developers Association $2,500.

“It is nice to see that both the federal and provincial governments are starting to notice us in the North,” says John Kapel, owner and operator of Little John Enterprises Ltd. in Timmins. “The Discover Abitibi team has to raise $1 million, and I think all the local businesses need to support this project. This is very positive for our community, and there are a lot of spinoff opportunities. Every single person in this community benefits from exploration and new mines.”

Little John Enterprises supplies local mines with underground timber, ladders, and skids for ore. Potential mining opportunities, no matter how small, give companies like Little John more security, he says.

“I’ve just started my expansion, which is being done in phases, and by the time I’m done it will cost about $1 million,” adds Kapel. “If a new mine opens or local mines refine more ore, then I get more business, as does everyone else in the community. We supply every single mine in Northern Ontario, and we make the packaging for ore to ship the copper and zinc all over the world.”

The proposed 19 projects include the development of an atlas of geoscience profiles of known deposits. A number of geoscience techniques will be used to develop the profiles.

Architecture of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt will be completed to reveal the geology, structure and overburden areas.

Data will also be gathered to provide detailed mapping information that can be entered into a geographic information system.

Three-dimensional models will be developed; one of deposit locations and another of the overburdened areas of the greenstone belt.

There will also be lamprophyre sampling, kimberlite (diamond) geochemistry, a seismic profile and regional gravity surveys.

Airborne surveys will be conducted over Kidd Munro East, Blake River Basin, Halliday Dome and Kamiskotia.

As well, Discover Abitibi will conduct four high-resolution magnetometer surveys in the Matheson area, Round Lake, Kirkland Lake and Lake Abitibi area.

“We didn’t have the technology before to see anomalies under the heavy overburden, so there are some areas which may have mineral potential,” Calhoun says. “The projects were chosen based on economic potential. We are losing population in the North. This project can help to create jobs. Everyone stands to gain.”

The ultimate goal is to find a deposit rich enough that a new mine can be developed. With the use of the latest technology to gather detailed information and fill knowledge gaps, the Discover Abitibi team is optimistic about the future of mining in the area.

“The one unfortunate thing about mines is that once the mine is started the death of it starts the same day,” adds Kapel. “There are deposits out there, but people haven’t had the money to explore and the technology wasn’t available. Now that Falconbridge has deep mining, our communities will have the knowledge for future exploration. The great thing about Discover Abitibi is that it has all the mines and businesses working together for the community.”

Kapel says data and technologies used under the Discover Abitibi initiative will also enhance Northern Ontario’s position in the global market.

“We are a resource based town and we have fierce global competitors,” Kapel says. “We have to do things economically and look at the global picture.”